The Finance Bill that parties either want (FF), or want to pass but not support (FG, Lab and Greens) needs to be voted through a stage around midday. If the Finance Bill falls then an election will be triggered immediately. Naturally, three independents are, as ever, trying to hold the government to ransom for some electoral fig leaf to cover their embarassment for their previous support for the coalition. Having watched some of the proceeding so far it has a serious end of term feeling to it with lots of goodbyes and thank yous, suggesting that the Bill is about to fail.
The alternatives, such as Fine Gael or Labour abstentions to pass a Bill that they ‘oppose’ (a term that needs to be re-defined in the context of parliamentary practice in Dublin), may push the date of the election back towards March again. It should be noted that if the Bill isn’t passed, most of parties must then fight the election on a Finance Bill that they have adopted contradictory positions on (apart from Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin). An incoming government would then have to push through a Finance Bill. The supposed economic literacy of various parties will then have to be put centre stage in the election. If Fianna Fáil have a political stroke left in them it would be to let the Bill be voted down.
Until someone actually goes up to the Phoenix Park to see the President, though, this Dáil isn’t actually dissolved yet.